Chinese Wedding Traditions for Your Special Day
Are you planning a wedding and looking to incorporate some Chinese traditions? You may want a more prominent Chinese theme or perhaps you just want to include a few touches here and there to pay homage to your ancestry. Whatever the case may be, we have outlined several traditions you may want to include in your wedding plans.
Traditions Harking Back Generations
Chinese wedding ceremonies have all manners of gorgeous traditions that go back several generations. Being an LA wedding photographer, I have been honored to bear witness to more than a few weddings and have helped preserve memories from these special days. Note that traditional Chinese weddings are often intimate and quiet affairs with the festivities most often being relegated to the reception but more on that later.
Even before the actually saying I do, a Chinese couple will go through a few time-tested traditions. One of them has to do with collecting the bride where the groom leads an energetic procession all the way to his bride’s home. This is quite the show and starts with a bang – literally! Firecrackers, gongs, and drums are used at the start of his journey and it is truly a big show.
But that’s not all.
A child is usually present and walks at the head of the procession together with the groom. This is to signify wishes for future children for the couple. Guests who are part of this procession can either carry banners and lanterns while the more musically gifted ones play instruments. A lion dance brings up the rear just for an extra dose of good luck.
When the groom arrives at his bride’s house, he has to go through an obstacle: the bride’s friends. They give him tasks to do and he is also expected to hand over red-envelopes with money in them so they step aside and give him access to his bride.
Unlike most western weddings, the actual ceremony in traditional Chinese weddings is actually a fairly small element of the actual wedding day when. For the most part, the couple exchange vows at a local government office where they then sign official documents. After that, the couple head on to a more intimate ceremony where they stand in front of the family altar to pay their respects to deities, ancestors, and nature. They conclude the ceremony as soon as they bow to each other.
Next is the all-important tea ceremony – this can be held immediately after or postponed the day after the wedding. This tradition sees the newlywed couple serve tea to the groom’s family. The tea contains either two red dates or lotus seeds. The parents are served tea first then it goes on in descending order until the youngest member has had a sip of the tea. Then, the couple is handed a red envelope with either jewelry or money inside.
In western weddings, the banquet is equivalent to the reception. For traditional Chinese weddings, parents of the bride and groom will usually host separately which means these feats can go on for days. These affairs, unlike the more intimate pre-wedding customs, are loud and lavish affairs. You will be looking at anywhere between five to 10 courses of delicious and symbolic dishes.
Case in point, serving lobster and chicken as these are traditionally representative of the yin and yang or the groom and bride. Noodles are also a mainstay in Chinese wedding cuisine as these are thought to represent longevity.
In my time as an Orange County wedding photographer, these banquets have always proven fun to shoot. A good photographer will always capture the mood of the banquets and preserve it for the couple for years to come.
Touches of Tradition
If you aren’t looking to go full traditional but want to have a nod at your Chinese heritage at your wedding, there are loads of things you can choose to incorporate such as traditional colors or even bridal gown designs.
- Wear a qipao – This is a traditional wedding dress for Chinese weddings. It is always in red and a veil is to be worn by the bride. If you want to wear a contemporary white wedding dress, why not choose a qipao as one of the gowns to change into for after the ceremony?
- Incorporate the color red in your theme – If there is one color that will instantly signify your Chinese heritage, it is the color red. Though to signify good luck, happiness, and prosperity you can use the color in your flowers, accessories, or even accessories like your guestbook or menus.
- Center-pieces – Adding lotus flowers, peonies, and even orchids to your center-pieces is a subtle but impactful way of showing off your Chinese heritage.
- Wedding favors and thank-you notes – Think small red silk pouches, perhaps tiny lanterns, or even custom chopsticks.
The sky is the limit to your creativity- it is your big day and you have complete control of how you choose to let your culture shine. Let’s Make a Memory and your favorite LA wedding photographer will make sure all your hard work and happy moments are preserved forever.
Let’s Make a Memory is a wedding photography and videography studio in Los Angeles. We photograph and film weddings in Orange County and San Diego County. As destination wedding photographers and videographers, we also travel to Las Vegas, Manila, and anywhere in the world to document your wedding.